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Leakage was detected at the welds between stiffening plates and the pipe in a transfer line carrying butane and related petrochemical compounds. The line and reinforcing rings were of AISI 316 stainless steel, the pipe being of 508 mm diam and 6.25 mm wall thickness. The design temperature and pressure were 621 deg C and 2.75 kPa, respectively, while the operating conditions were 579 deg C and 1.03 kPa. The line was insulated. Failure occurred after approximately 90,000 h of operation, shutdowns being approximately two per annum. The cracking occurred at the toe of welds between the plates and the pipe. The creep damage failure was attributed to repeated relaxation cycles of very high thermal stresses of resulting from the periodic shutdowns, temperature fluctuations during service, or both. This failure emphasized the information available from an evaluation of the operative creep mechanism, namely grain boundary sliding, relating to the periodic nature of the loading, with high residual stresses being present.

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